Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Books

This year, according to what I've recorded on Goodreads at least, I've read 54 books. I was going for an even 60 but those pesky deadlines kept getting in the way. My plan for this post was to pick out my five favorites, but it's way too difficult. There are a lot of good books in the world, and not nearly enough time.

I will say that if you are a person and you like reading, definitely check out Nick Hornby's collections of "Stuff I've Been Reading." MORE BATHS, LESS TALKING is the 4th one, but they are all wonderful. On the other end of the spectrum, THE CROWNING had some really scary, poetic moments in it for those who like their horror dark, Lovecraftian, and kind of romantic. Speaking of Lovecraftian, I.N.J. Culbard's graphic adaptations of Lovecraft's work are terrific. AT THE MOUNTAINS of MADNESS is my favorite Lovecraft story and Culbard really did it right. If you've ever met me you know that I don't say that lightly. WILLY was an unexpected surprise that I wouldn't have found if it wasn't for Goodreads. Spooky, dark, and almost a love story, it is well worth the price of admission. And of course, RASL and THE CREEP are two more that shouldn't be passed up if you like romance mixed with your tragedy. If you want to read some interesting physics, on the other hand, THE PARTICLE AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE by Sean Carroll is a good place to start. I loved it almost as much as his former book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE.

Moving on through the year, DARWIN'S LOST WORLD was a fascinating look at the roots of the Cambrian Explosion. What the heck is up with those weird, ancient fossils that look like pizzas, anyway? I still don't know, but at least now I have some idea. HORSESHOE CRABS AND VELVET WORMS attacked much the same problem from a different perspective: looking at existing examples of ancient lifeforms to decode what may have gone before. It's fascinating, as all of Richard Fortey's books are, and a real romp as well. Paleontology not your thing? David Byrne does the same sort of thing with music in HOW MUSIC WORKS.
As the year drew to a close, I spent some time among London's dead while plowing through NECROPOLIS, which is absolutely fascinating if you've ever visited that city, and a good companion to THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY. And finally reading CORPSE ON THE IMJIN!, Fantagraphic's collection of Harvey Kurtzman's war comics, was eye-opening. I'm rounding out the year by reading REBECCA, something that I've somehow never gotten around to before now. I have to say, it's not quite what I was expecting. 

Next year? Hard to say, except that my TBR pile weighs more than I do  I really wish there was a national holiday where it was expected that you did nothing all day but catch up on pleasure reading. Maybe then I'd be able to get through 60 books!

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